Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Bondens - altruism and self-interest

In a supreme (and horribly expensive) act of altruism the Bondens have, as announced, caused a shower to be installed in their main bathroom. This will meet complaints of shower-loving guests that a pre-existing shower is no use because it is located in the en suite bathroom and gaining access means passing through the Bonden bedroom. Most people prefer not to deal with the Bondens prior to 9 am.

Altruistic because the Bondens never take showers. Mrs BB bathes but follows a routine that is not widely explained. BB himself does not exactly bathe: he runs water, lies in it, reads for an hour, then gets out. This practice has always horrified residents of the North American continent but most are willing to compromise their high hygiene standards. Visits to chez Bonden may run the risk of bacterial infection but there are compensations, as the third part of the montage suggests.

The too-low wash-basin in the en suite has been replaced by a unit strangely resembling a Hammond organ. BB’s vertebral discs are no long at risk. However the nanny state feels it must protect its low IQ citizens from scalding their hands and hot water flow from the mixer tap is down to a dribble, by law it seems.

NOVEL Seven chapters (out of twenty-two) have now been subjected to preliminary editing and many words have taken off into the ether. The experience is salutary. Time after time verbosity takes exactly the same form – even in adjacent paragraphs. To edit one’s own stuff is an exercise in self-humiliation.

13 comments:

CC said...

Coming to writing from illustrating,
I discovered, that like rough sketches, first drafts
(and often more) benefit greatly from editing.
For me, writing can be a struggle, but I LOVE editing.

Plutarch said...

The wash basin to the right is a curious and no doubt efficient device. In which of your bathrooms is it located?

Barrett Bonden said...

CC: Just took a glance at your profile to check what we're sharing. You've written fiction but I assume it was an accompaniment to illustrations. Mine is inevitably picture-free. As a result the options are hardly fewer than they were during the first draft. Sometimes I look at a "wrong" para and start playing Solitaire, just to allow a new option to nibble at my consciousness. As an ex- professional journalist I am committed to correcting anything I write; I expect to find faults and if they are not immediately apparent I search for them. I distrust first thoughts. As I say it is the range of options that makes correcting fiction much harder than non-fiction. You say you LOVE editing but there may be more reasons than merely improving what's been written. Editing presupposes a finished MS and the delicious sense of relief that goes with it. In that sense editing is less terrifying than writing. Except on some occasions when even Solitaire can't help and I have to turn away from the screen and count my collection of model foklifts - all freebies I should add.

Plutarch: The thing on the right is a form of abacus. It establishes credit and debit. When the gaps start to interconnect I take on an accountant's worries. There is, however, another abacus under the stairs and I can shine a torch on it for comfort. In the dark is the good stuff.

The Crow said...

The new shower looks wonderful, BB, and I'd love to learn how that 'abacus' works. Do the different color caps have different values?

Julia said...

I see! In order to take a shower the showeree must add a 'bead' to the abacus?

Hattie said...

We Americans believe in showers because of our love of efficiency and hygiene. But more than that, taking a bath seems sinful. It's such a self indulgent thing to do.
Our house has a funny old "furo," a Japanese style bathtub that is small but deep. You pull your legs up to sit in it.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: The coloured caps indicate different types of wine but it is not necessary for guests to know this. At Chez Bonden they are in my hands and they get what I hand out. Experienced guests husband their capacity knowing that some way through the meal, when several bottles have been consumed, BB often issues a command to Younger Daughter to grab a bottle from row three/slot two in the racking under the stairs. No bad wine is served Chez Bonden but this is the really good stuff.

Julia: As usual you raise an interesting, if parallel, matter. Twenty or thirty years ago one always took a bottle of wine to a dinner party. This simple rule then got bogged with furtive arguments about whether the guest's tastes (and/or generosity) matched that of the host and the practice fell into disuse. Has it been re-established, at least in Prague.

Hattie: My views on Americans' attitude towards baths are on record in a letter to The Times (of London) when their diary-man wondered why US baths were so meanly dimensioned. The reason is that US baths aren't really seen as baths at all, merely somewhere to put your feet when having a shower. I added "Americans view the prospect of marinading in one's own juices as life threatening." To this concern with hygiene you have now added morality. It was time to leave the USA when I did.

Julia said...

Here in Prague no dinner guest knocks on the door without a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers in the other hand. I've actually gotten so used to this habit that I can't verify if it is an American one or not too!

Hattie said...

Now I'm getting all nostalgic for the deep and comfortable bathtub we had in our Swiss apartment. It was my refuge from the kids on many a day.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: There is one other point. Suppose it is (a) a very good bottle of wine, or (b) a bum bottle. Does one consume (a) that evening; does one put (b) to one side? And then there is the reverse of this. You turn up for a dinner with a good bottle which is put to one side and you are offered rotten wine throughout the evening. Or are all your guests and all the people whose hospitality you accept carefully tested beforehand and knocked off the list if they don't meet these vital criteria?

Hattie: No doubt for alliterative reasons Americans have confused hygiene with hedonism. Washing oneself is a national obsession (think how many US novels you've read in which a character who has just undergone a moral crisis rushes home and undergoes a ritual in the shower which ends with 15 min. of "needle sharp" - only Americans would know that setting - cold water; and emerges a better person!) Showers are for men who fear dandruff more than bankruptcy. Baths are a return to the amniotic fluid and an opportunity to do things that can't be done elsewhere. Eg, read Moby Dick.

Rouchswalwe said...

As a German-American, I shamelessly pluck the best of both worlds: showers on weekday mornings before rushing to the office, and weekend baths of amniotic bliss. Now if I only had a tub with the length of an American tub and the height of a Japanese tub, perfection would have a name.

Avus said...

Since being made to take cold showers at school and in the army I have hated the things. I might just about take one on a very hot day, to cool off, but otherwise I am with you (only figuratively, of course) on the full bath, BB

Sir Hugh said...

A strategy for avoiding using the bottle brought by the guest, because it is inferior, or perhaps because it is good and you would like to keep it for later (for yourself), is to open your own bottle prior to the guest arriving, and then you can say "oh! thank you, I've already opened a bottle". This leaves you with the option of opening their bottle later or pretending to forget about it as you wish.